Pat Muir is on assignment this week, which probably means standing in line for fried food and cheap beer to yak about. In the meantime, enjoy some classic complaining from 2016.
There’s been something bugging me for quite some time and maybe you can help: Why do people insist on stopping for school buses going the opposite direction on main roads???
I have seen this repeatedly on Summitview Avenue, Tieton Drive and Nob Hill Boulevard, thinking “Why are we all stopping???” If drivers in front and next to me decide to stop, then we all have to sit there while kids get on or off the bus ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET! If no one in front of me stops and I continue driving, I get these crazy looks from people like I’m a maniac who wants to mow down precious little babies.
Come on, people, do you really think the bus driver is going to stop on Summitview, let little children off the bus, wish them the best of luck and then watch while they cross four lanes of traffic?? Of course not! The driver has to turn around and drop them off on the other side!
Two-lane roads are another story altogether, and of course everyone should stop and wait for the kids to get on and off. But, really, think about it: Main roads with three or four lanes do not require everyone to stop. Please, use your heads.
Sincerely, JUSTTRYINGTO GETTOWORKALREADY
Dear JUSTTRYINGTO GETTOWORKALREADY,
I really think one question mark is enough. You’re upset; I understand that. But you’ve adequately demonstrated your anger with the all-caps signature and liberal use of exclamation points. The triple-question-mark thing comes off as overdoing it.
If it’s used too much, extreme punctuation — like cursing or shouting — just becomes a new baseline. That robs it of the very power you’re hoping to wield. Grammatical violence works best in contrast to understatement. Try a little understatement next time.
All of which is not to dismiss your frustration as unwarranted. I hate nothing more than being stuck behind someone who should be moving. And that’s clearly the case in the examples you’re describing. Just totally infuriating.
But the rule on this is not as obvious as you think. I did a little (very, very little; minimal, I’d say) research into this and learned that many states have a stop-no-matter-which-side-of-the-damn-road-you’re-on law when it comes to school buses. Washington’s more reasonable law, which allows you to keep going if you’re on the opposite side of a roadway with at least three total lanes, is only common sense if you grew up with it.
It’s possible the people stopping grew up in stop-no-matter-what states, which is why they’re looking at you like you’re a maniac. Or it’s possible they’re overly cautious, judgmental idiots. In either case, there’s not much you can do — short of driving past them slowly with the window down and shouting: “This maneuver is legal here. It makes sense if you think about it. Child safety is important to me, but so is efficient traffic flow. I trust you understand.”
Hope that helps.